Ozone Park pharmacy closes after 50 years

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The same day, the Clearwater, Fla.-based Eckerd Corp. sent out a one-page press release announcing the store's takeover by the Genovese pharmacy.

Eckerd, one of the largest drug chains in the nation, merged with Genovese in 1999 in a transaction that gave the drugstore giant an entree to the New York market, a prime battleground for competition in the pharmacy industry.

Eckerd did not disclose the terms of the deal, nor was it clear what would happen to the original Sheril property. But former Sheril customers were sent to the Genovese store at 102-30 Atlantic Ave.

And that appeared to be that.

Roy Rathindra, who owned the pharmacy for the past five years, said sales were lagging.

"Business was not that great, that's why we tried to get rid of it," he said from Abrin Pharmacy on Rockaway Boulevard where he now works.

While it was a staple to the Ozone Park community for half a century, Sheril Pharmacy was owned by a series of people, Rathindra said.

With the transfer of 250,000 prescription files to Genovese, however, Rathindra estimated hundreds of Ozone Park customers, have been affected and more than a few were upset by the buyout.

"A lot of people, especially old people [were affected]. They don't like to walk. And they are a little bit friendly with the pharmacy," he said.

The former Sheril Pharmacy customers now must walk three long blocks north to Atlantic Avenue between 102nd and 103rd streets, where the Genovese and former Sheril prescriptions are located.

Rathindra said the takeover had been planned four weeks prior to the store's closing and he had informed his customers "maybe two weeks" in advance.

But Rosemere Messina, a hair stylist who works at Salvatore's Unisex next door to the pharmacy, said several of her customers complained about the rapid closing of the pharmacy, saying they had not been notified.

Messina said a patron who came in the previous day "was upset because they didn't say nothing. Why didn't they tell people?" she asked, saying the woman arrived expecting to find her pharmacy but instead found a closed store and a poster.

Messina also said an employee at the pharmacy who left his job to join the Army suspected the business would not last very long.

"[He] said he had to go. He said he would be out of a job in six months," she said. In the end, Messina noted, the pharmacy was stripped down to the bare walls and sold little more than lottery tickets.

Other neighbors also suspected Sheril's end was imminent. Down the street at Furci Ravioli and Pasta Company, Mario Muscianesi, surrounded by olive oils and savories, recalled that at times the pharmacy did not even stock the most basic first-aid supplies.

"If we cut ourselves with a knife and went there for a Band-Aid, they wouldn't have them," Muscianesi said. His brother, Dominic, said he once paid $224 to Sheril for a prescription that cost only $89 at a chain pharmacy.

But the manager of the Genovese store was optimistic about an influx of Sheril customers to his business

"I welcome the opportunity to provide my neighbors and friends with all their shopping needs," said Mohammed Khan, Genovese store manager.

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